London… A city I’ve been wanting to visit for about ten years and now the time was finally here! In January Eline and I were pretty spontaneous and booked a trip to London at the end of July. When we booked the trip, it felt like ages away. But two weeks ago it was already here! For the past couple of months I’ve made of list of sights and hotspots to visit so before we went away, we planned when we wanted to go where. In this travel diary you see and read all about our London trip. I hope you’ll like it (Warning: I got pretty excited while writing this blog post so it is a little long but I hope you enjoy it anyway).
DAY ONE | Monday 25 July, 2016
Around 6:15 AM I opened my eyes and had a look at my phone. I thought it would be a little later but nope, unfortunately I was already awake. Since I was awake I got myself ready and packed the last things I needed. Then it was time to pick Eline up and go to the airport! At 11:00 AM (after a little delay) we left Schiphol Airport and arrived at London Gatwick Airport one hour later. The flight went by so fast. When we started to land, it felt like we just sat down haha.
I have to be honest, we struggled a little bit when I had to get from London Gatwick Airport to the Lancaster Gate metro station. Before we went to London, we ordered a Oyster Card and ticket to and from the airport online. I can definitely recommend this to everyone because there were such long lines to buy a ticket (and it’s way more expensive). Anyways, we first couldn’t find the right train so it took us a little longer to get to where we needed to go. But in the end we got to Lancaster Gate metro station. Then we had to find our hotel and we didn’t do so much research beforehand so we struggled again. After we walked back and forth a couple of times, we found it! As you can see in the photos below, our hotel, Lancaster Gate Hotel, looks stunning. A typical London look.
When we got to our hotel, we weren’t able to check in just yet. So we first had a late lunch at Swan Restaurant, which is on the way from the metro station to the hotel. The food gave us some energy and time went by pretty fast so we could check in to the hotel. When we got settled in the room, we got ourselves ready and went to explore around Oxford Street.
Eventually we ended up at Regent Street and Kingly Street. I absolutely loved the feel of Kingly Street. It isn’t as busy as Oxford or Regent Street, which is a big plus, and this is where you can find some fairly unknown hotspots. After wandering around for a bit, we went to Piccadilly Circus. It reminded me a little of Times Square in New York, only a lot smaller of course. Since we were really on a roll and could see the Big Ben from Piccadilly Circus, we decided to go there as well. Before getting to the Big Ben, we walked past the Horse Guards Parade. In the background we could already see a little from the London Eye.
When walking underneath the Horse Guards Parade and towards the Big Ben, we also passed by Downing Street. This is where the prime minister of the United Kingdom lives and where the press always takes lots of photos. I thought we were able to walk here but nope, it was all closed off unfortunately. Anyways, after a little walk we got to the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I think both buildings are pretty impressive to see in real life, especially the Big Ben. I may have taken at least 50 photos of it because I saw something I liked about it every minute.
After that we got the metro to Buckingham Palace. Just like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, this is something you can’t miss when you’re in London. Maybe you’ll even see the Queen watching from her window or Prince Harry walking by haha. That would be awesome but that unfortunately didn’t happen to us. At this moment it was already about 7 PM so we thought we should get some food. Since this was a pretty busy exploring day we went to Covent Garden to walk around for a bit and then get some food. We didn’t feel like sitting down somewhere so we went to Starbucks (how basic), got two salads and ate those in our hotel room.
DAY TWO | Tuesday 26 July, 2016
Before our trip we spent a day planning out where we wanted to go. For Tuesday we planned to got to Shoreditch. I always hear the Michalaks talking about them going there and read lots about it on the internet. It looked like a place I would definitely enjoy because of the photo opportunities and hotspots. So this is exactly what we did in the morning. We both woke up really early (around 6 AM) so we had a pretty lazy morning and then left to get the metro to Shoreditch.
When we left the metro station, we didn’t know where we were. It was pretty funny because we started walking one way and then went back. But it ended up we were walking in the right direction so we had to go back again haha. Anyways, that’s when we did see lots of amazing graffiti and other art everywhere. Two of my favorites you can see above. If you’re walking through Shoreditch, don’t forget to look everywhere you can because you will see so many hidden art pieces.
Since we didn’t have breakfast included in the hotel, we could try a new breakfast hotspot every morning. In Shoreditch we found Franzé & Evans, which we liked the look of. We both had a sandwich with rucola, pesto, tomato and mozzarella. On the go we took a warm croissant and we even got a small jar of jam with that. Oh, and they have free wifi (very important haha).
After our bellies were all filed and ready to conquer the rest of the day, we found some lovely hotspots by just wandering around. I will mention all of those in a seperate blog post because there are just too many. All of the sudden I look through this alleyway and see Boxpark. I had heard of this before (it must have been in a YouTube video) so I dragged Eline with me to see what it was like. When we walked up, the name started to make sense to me. Boxpark consists of these containers where stores and food places are in. Why don’t we have this in The Netherlands? I think this is such a clever idea and I loved all the different stores that were there.
We may have wandered around for a pretty long time in Shoreditch but we also wanted to visit some other places so we started looking for a nearby metro station. While walking to the station, I saw The Gherkin appear in between all of the tall buildings. Another sight you must have seen (from far away or nearby) when you are visiting London so we checked this off our list.
The other place we really wanted to visit was Camden Town. This was also on my very well known hotspot list because of the Camden Market. When exiting the metro station we also saw so many different stands with mostly souvenirs. Of course we looked around for some time because I had to get magnets for my mom, grandma and other fun things for my friends. Here is where we also found a cafe to have lunch. Since we had a pretty filling breakfast, we didn’t need that much so we shared a home made tomato soup.
After exploring the Camden Market a little more after lunch, we found the Camden Lock. I had never heard of it but since it looked interesting, we went in. This is where we found so many different stands with artists that sold their own work. At one of the stands I bought a present for my dad. It was a piece of newspaper with an old camera painted on it. There were lots of different designs but I liked this the best since my dad is very into photography as well. So if you’re looking for unique presents or souvenirs, you should definitely go here.
Then we felt it was time to have a little break at the hotel. We rested for a bit and thought of where we should eat. Eline really wanted to go to Piccadilly Circus to get tickets to see Wicked. She got a tip from someone that you should get last minute tickets from a kiosk at Piccadilly Circus because the seats are great and the tickets are cheaper. So we decided to see for ourselves if that was true and it was. The man in the kiosk was very helpful and I think we got a pretty good deal. We bought tickets for Wednesday evening because on Tuesday night was the live final of Big Brother UK, which I really wanted to watch (I am a dork, I know haha).
For dinner I suggested that we would go back to Kingly Street to see what kind of restaurants they have there. We found Pizza Pilgrims and decided to sit down here because let’s be honest: It’s always a good time to have a pizza. Appareantly they had a terrace as well so we ended up sitting in the middle of Kingly Court (which we didn’t know excisted). We got the food so quick and both our pizzas where really good! While we were having dinner, I searched where Crumbs & Doilies was. In one of Zoella’s vlogs she talked about their cakes and ever since then I’ve wanted to try them. So we may have got six little cupcakes and ate them while watching the Big Brother finale?
DAY THREE | Wednesday 27 July, 2016
Wednesday started off pretty slow. I don’t know why but we woke up early but don’t feel like getting ready. Does this sound familiar? Anyways, after we watched the news and weather on the television, we did get ready and decided to go and explore Notting Hill. This was a neighborhood I really really really wanted to go to because I’ve seen lots of photos from it on Instagram and websites. I am crazy about pastel colors and when houses are pastel colored, it is even better.
Firstly we started looking for a place to have breakfast (or brunch since it was already like 11 AM haha). After walking around Notting Hill and Portobello Road, we found Gail’s Artisan Bakery. From the outside it already looked like a cozy place and since it started to rain a little, we went inside. You could smell all the lovely baked goods when you entered. They have everything, from croissants to cakes. I got the blueberry buttermilk pancakes and they were delicious! When I think back, I definitely want to have them again. With that we also took some little things to go for later on the day.
After enjoying a lovely breakfast (and it stopped raining), we walked all the way to the end of Portobello Road. On this street are lots of different hotspots. You won’t just find souvenir shops but also cute stores, like Cath Kidston. Since I discovered lots of hotspots in London, which I want to share with all of you, I think I will make a seperate blog post with all of those I think. Let me know if you would like to see that on here!
While walking through Notting Hill we decided to go to The Tower Bridge. Of course we had to see this sight in real life while we were in London. As you can see in the photos above, we took some pretty awesome photos. I stood in the middle of the road to take the last photo and I am very glad with the end result haha. Since we were kind of in the neigborhood, we walked to the Tate Modern Museum. I love museums where they have modern art and since Tate is free (you can donate money if you like and we did), of course we went there for a visit. We saw all of the free expositions and underneath you can see my favorite pieces.
I believe we walked around for about two hours and then went back to our hotel for a little bit. Eline took a powernap and I spend some time blogging because in the evening we would go to Wicked The Musical. First we had dinner at Poppie’s Fish & Chips because we had to have a traditional fish and chips dinner in London. It was really good and after that we left to Victoria station because that’s where the Apollo Victoria Theatre is. I didn’t know what to expect from Wicked The Musical but I really liked it. Next time I am in London, I definitely want to see Mamma Mia.
DAY FOUR | Thursday 28 July, 2016
When we woke up on Thursday, we were both a little sad because this would be our last day in London. We started the day with packing all of our last things and then left to go to the National History Museum. We both really wanted to see the big dinosaur in the museum but when we exited the metro station, there was such a long line of people that were waiting to enter the museum. So we decided to take a couple of photos from the front of the museum and then look for a place to have breakfast around South Kensington.
We crossed the road from the National History Museum and found Le Pain Quotidien. It looked like a cozy place to have breakfast so we sat down and ordered some food. We both got a warm Belgian waffle. Eline had one with chocolate sauce and I had one with jam (since I hate chocolate sauce). With that I also got a croissant and Eline got a fresh yoghurt parfait with lots of fruit and granola. Of course we got a pot of tea to drink and the lady was very nice because we got a refill of the tea for free. This was definitely a great spot to sit down and have breakfast at.
Since we were having such a lovely breakfast, we totally forgot about the time. It was already 11:15 AM and at 11:30 AM the changing of the guards would begin at Buckingham Palace. This was something we still wanted to see while we were in London so we got the metro and within 10 minutes arrived at Buckingham Palace. I knew it would be busy but it ended up being so busy that we weren’t able to see anything. We did stay for a little while but then left because we also wanted to do some shopping.
To do some last minute shopping we first went to Piccadilly Circus again. We knew there was an M&M Store around there somewhere and of course we had get ourselves and our family some chocolate. I think we bought around 20 pounds of M&M’s but that’s okay haha. After that we went back to Regent Street. This is where we shopped a little at & Other Stores, Anthropologie and more of these kind of stores. In an upcoming blog post I will show all of the things that I bought during all of my trips because there are some fun things in there…
Then we went to Kingly Street and Carnaby Street once again. I think these two are my absolute favorite streets to shop and walk around in London. It reminds me a little of The Nine Streets in Amsterdam and as you might know, I love The Nine Streets. One store we hadn’t been to was Choccywoccydoodah. My mom and I always watch the television program so of course I had to go there and see it in real life. All of the sculpture cakes (I don’t know what else to call them) look so impressive in real life. On the television it already looks incredible but I would definitely recommend visiting the store if you are in London.
Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end… After spending four days in the beautiful city of London, it was time for us to go home. We took the metro to Heathrow Airport and I would definitely recommend this. It only costs about 3 pounds with the Oyster Card when you check in before 4 PM. How inexpensive! Since we got to the airport pretty early, we sat down at Giraffe to have dinner. We both got a burger and they were absolutely delicious. It was something I really needed because I was getting hangry (if you know what I mean haha). After waiting for a couple of hours, we landed in a cloudy Amsterdam again… This is definitely the start of more girls trips with Eline. We are ready to go on a next adventure. Where do you think we should go? Have you ever been to London?